ATLANTA -- A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld a ruling
that former Alabama football coach Mike Price was not entitled to a
hearing before or after his firing because he had not signed a
contract with the university.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Atlanta agreed with a lower court's decision to dismiss Price's $20
million defamation and wrongful termination suit against the
Price and the university agreed in December 2002 to the
principles of a seven-year, $10 million contract. Before Price
signed a contract, questions arose about his drunken behavior at a
golf tournament in Pensacola, Fla., and he was fired in May 2003.
Price, who had coached Washington State to the Rose Bowl before
going to Alabama, argued that he was entitled to a hearing before
his firing and an appeal afterward, and that the university's
refusal to grant either hearing prevented him from clearing his
name. But the lower court ruled that Price had no such rights
because he had not signed a contract.
The appeals court agreed.
"Even if Price had orally accepted
the terms of the draft proposal contract," the panel wrote,
"Alabama's Statute of Frauds requires that the contract be reduced
to writing and signed, which was not the case here."
Price's attorney, Stephen Heninger of Birmingham, did not
immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Price is now head coach at Texas-El Paso.